Friday, May 14, 2021

Marco Car Ace Samples British Historic Race

Photos courtesy of Keith Pershing | Marco car aficionado and owner of Island Automotive Keith Pershing joins some of the hostesses at the event.

You could call it a classic car and race car enthusiast’s Holy Grail.

It’s the Goodwood Revival, an annual British historic race meeting staged in period theme (1940s to 1960s) over three days each September.

Or, as the official brochure for the Revival puts it: “recreating the romance and glamour of motor racing as it used to be.”

Marco Islander Keith Pershing has just returned from the 2019 Revival, and is still basking in the afterglow of the experience.

He says it should be on the bucket list for anyone with even the remotest interest in classic cars and accompanying pomp and ceremony.

As it happens, besides offering full-service automotive servicing at his Island Automotive business on Elkcam Circle since 1979, Pershing’s passion has always been working with older, and particularly imported cars.

“When I was 12 (and living in Detroit) we had a VW beetle with an engine that failed,” he said. “It took weeks to convince my dad, but eventually I took out the engine and rebuilt it … and it worked.”

That was basically the catalyst to a life- and career-long passion for restoration, culminating perhaps three years ago when he and a team of auto technician specialists brought home honors from the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Indiana.

Their yearlong authentic restoration of a rare 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster scooped a “primary” first place in a category reserved for first-time exhibitors of these cars.

Significantly, the restoration has to be “authentic” instead of “replicated,” so the team basically produced something indistinguishable from the original, right down to the smallest identical nuts and bolts.

The Auburn company produced cars from 1900 through 1936, essentially using its 4.6L, straight eight, 100 mph-plus Boattail Speedsters as loss leaders to stimulate showroom traffic. It’s thought that only 147 of these models were built.

At the time, models cost around $2,250.

The Goodwood circuit, about 50 miles outside London in West Sussex, encircles the local airport.

While there, Pershing said he enjoyed the races (particularly one featuring 30 pre-war Bentley sports cars), as well as dressing up in period clothing for the occasion, and also people watching.

He also browsed an auto jumble – where hard-to-find spare parts and accessories for all sorts of cars can be found – perused military vehicles of the time coming mostly from America, and along the way became more familiar with related British terminology.

“For French fries, you ask for chips,” he said. “Tea is served hot, potato chips are crisps, a hood is a bonnet, and a trunk is a boot.”

Everything, maybe the kitchen sink too, is up for grabs at the auto jumble.

Pershing also did the obligatory and fun London bus tour, noting: “The Queen didn’t say hi, but the guards – in their red suits and funny hats – were ready to stop me from going in.”

Pershing took more than passing interest in the actual Goodwood races because he regularly joins his stepson, Shane Sparks, to take part in Sebring, Florida meets.

“The entry-level values of the cars runs around $1-million, and each race is supposed to be a ‘spirited’ driving event,” he said.

Some drivers – either owners or professionals – got a bit overzealous and did some paint swapping, he said. “One (expensive) Jag met the wall, and had a smoking tire from the fender rubbing. The driver got out, bent it outwards and carried on.”

In his world, Pershing has seen many exotic cars, but this time around he said he saw some “extremely rare” ones, notably C-type Jaguars and D-types – racing cars that preceded the E-type production cars.

He added that even the public parking lot was full of classics, and that one day he spent a couple of hours simply walking up and down the lot, just gazing.

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